As a mom to five little ones and as a kindergarten and special needs teacher, I have helped a lot of children learn how to hold a pencil correctly. Sometimes it would be really difficult to teach a child how to hold a pencil until I figured out this fun and crazy alligator trick. It is really important to teach correct pencil grip for a number of reasons. Primarily, you want the child to feel comfortable while writing and secondly, correct pencil grip will help improve handwriting.
How to Hold a Pencil
To teach the correct way to hold a pencil, you can have the child pretend his/her dominant (writing) hand is an alligator.
Open and close the alligator’s mouth – and show that the alligator is hungry and wants to eat the pencil!
Now that the alligator is holding the pencil in his mouth, place the pencil on the bottom jaw of the alligator,and close the alligator’s mouth on the pencil.
As the alligator eats the pencil, he doesn’t like the taste of the pencil, so he puckers his lips. (Show your children what it means to pucker your lips!)
He puckers his lips and curls his jaws in the shape of an ‘o’ – and clenches the pencil in his teeth.
If your child continues to struggle, there are some neat tools out there that really help children to grip a pencil correctly. Click the picture below to see the tool we recommend for teaching someone how to hold a pencil correctly. We do not recommend the small grips that slip onto a pencil – in my experience, they still confuse the child where and how to hold the pencil. These sort of pencil grips may help your child feel more comfortable holding a pencil (ergonomically correcting an already correct grip).
Here is a picture of how the pencil on the left above works: I have had 2 children use the pencil on the left to help them learn pencil grip. More recently, I have a 4 year old who was having trouble and I bought him the pencil grip on the right. Amazing! He was having a lot of fine motor difficulty -holding the pencil correctly and also when he was writing he could not press hard enough. The pencil grip on the right really helped him! I highly recommend both of the tools above… if one does not work, try the other. If your child has small hands, the one on the right might be better…(at least this seemed the case with my 4 year old)
After your child has mastered holding a pencil correctly, we have some free handwriting worksheets for you to help them master handwriting. Enter your information into the form below and you will be automatically emailed a copy of our free pre-handwriting practice worksheets. You will be added to our mailing list where you will find out about lots of fun free activities for kids. If you have any trouble with your download, email me at [email protected] -I am happy to help!
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Madreen Karle is a master first grade reading teacher with over 30 years of classroom experience. She taught reading in a special needs and English as a Second Language classroom. After retiring she wrote a reading program to help others learn how to teach reading. She is a trusted educator and author of 5 books to help teach children to read and write. In addition to her books, she is a mentor for 3 websites that give reading teacher tips (Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading, Mrs. Karle’s Reading Patch, and Mrs. Karle’s Handwriting Patch). Through her teaching she learned that confidence was the key to learning to read. A child who is not confident at reading does not like to read and struggles to read. Mrs. Karle created “sunshine moments” to help teach children how to grow their confidence and learn to read.
Meeghan Karle Mousaw (Madreen’s daughter) has her Master’s in Special Education. She has 8 years experience teaching children to read online. In addition, she developed a curriculum to teach children handwriting called The Handwriting Patch. With the Handwriting Patch learning is fun because children learn to draw and learn handwriting at the same time. In 2019 The Handwriting Patch curriculum became an amazon best seller the first year it was released, helping thousands of kids learn handwriting with a unique, fun method. She is mom to 6 kids, each with differently learning abilities and struggles.
The Reading Patch was established by the creators of Mrs. Karle’s Sight and Sound Reading. Together they have been featured on the NBC media outlets and Parents Magazine online. Over the last 8 years in their online platform, Madreen and Meeghan have worked tirelessly with teachers, homeschoolers and parents looking to help children learn to read to become a trusted authority in teaching children to read and advocating early literacy skills. They often partner with other educational experts to deliver the most current information to the Reading Patch community.